A Few Of My Favorite Books of 2015 (So Far)

Seems that I’ve made this year a year of reading. Maybe it’s because I have some quiet nights when Henry is at Jason’s. Or maybe I just want to take my eyes off my computer and drift into another world with characters who give me ideas and inspiration and hope.

I thought I’d share a few with you. Go forth and read!

Books by our very talented Listen To Your Mother Cast Members:

Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected by Kayla Aimee

The Beauty of Grace: Stories of God’s Love from Today’s Most Popular Writers by Dawn Jacobs Camp (and many other contributors)

Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! by Rachel Macy Stafford

All Beautiful Things by Nicki Salcedo

Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now by Ann Imig and other LTYM Cast Members from across the country

Other books I love and highly recommend:

Damselfly Inn (Thornton Vermont Book 1) by Cameron Garriepy

Buck’s Landing (A New England Seacoast Romance Book 1) by Cameron Garriepy

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

After You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes (pre-order sequel to Me Before You)

Kindness Wins by Galit Breen

Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 1) by Cheryl Strayed

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love – by Anna Whitson-Donaldson

ALL the Housewife Assassin’s Books by Josie Brown

Disclaimer: Contains affiliate links. Buying through these links will feed my travel habit. And keep my local Starbucks open. 

Twelve. 12. XII.

Twelve. 12. XII.

It’s been a dozen years since you stubbornly and dramatically took your first breath.

Counting that many years without you is more than I can fathom, really.

If someone asked me right now, I would say that it felt like just yesterday they placed you in my arms, all pink and mad.

But if another person came up right behind them, I may say I could barely remember the smell of your skin or how your lip curled just a little at the corner.

While there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about you, there are long stretches of hours when the hole in my heart feels plugged up and dare I say, whole. And then, maybe it’s a glance at the clock at 9:19 or a giraffe figurine in a window, memories come back. I know sometimes it’s you nudging me to remember, to think, to take a minute and thank you for going through life with me.

I’m thankful you were born, Charlie.

Without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? I mean, obviously I’d rather you be here, but there were clearly much bigger plans for you. You were never supposed to stay.

Do you know how many people your story, as tragic as it was, has helped? A lot.

And do you know how many people I talk to who are grieving the loss of their child who just want to know from someone who has been there, that one day it’ll be ok? A lot.

You sitting on my shoulder, walking life with me, helps me help them. They’re my friends now, just like their babies are playing with you up there. (Make sure you share your cake with them today.)

So instead of finishing the 5th grade this week and headed to middle school, you’re saving babies’ lives and helping me give grieving parents or scared soon-to-be parents hope.

no tears eat cake 400

So today we celebrate you.

We don’t cry because you’re gone,

we eat cake because you were born.

Happy birthday, Charlie!

I love you to Heaven and back.

Apart.

Apart.

It’s an adverb, used with verbs like drift, grow, or live.

It describes how our hearts have grown over the years. Apart.

Our love has drifted and now we have chosen to live that way. Apart.

It wasn’t a split second decision. And the details aren’t important.

Apart, for now, is how we will be.

Will it be permanent? We don’t know.

But for now it’s where we find ourselves.

We’ve grown to this place and hope that in the apartness, we can both drift towards our individual happiness or newfound togetherness.

Goals. And Reaching Them.

Goals. And Reaching Them.

It’s not a secret, if you’ve been around here for a bit, that I have a love/hate relationship with running. I had never been a runner until one random morning in June 2012 when I decided, “Hey, I should run.” Yes, just like Forrest Gump.

Short version of the story: I started Couch to 5k and a few days later was talked into signing up for the Princess Half Marathon, which would be run a short 8 months after I got my ass off my couch. It was with the team from the Ronald McDonald House in Macon.

I’ve been a part of the RMHC in Macon since before it even opened its doors to families. Since then, I’ve served as a monthly meal maker, a weekend manager, a weekly shift volunteer, as a member of the Board of Directors, and now as a three-time member of TeamRMHC. While we don’t live in Macon anymore, a piece of our heart is in The House.

You see, when Charlie died, we asked for donations to be made to The House. If I remember right, over $10,000 was donated in his memory… thus, the playroom was named for him.

CFA Playroom

 

So in 2013, as my fundraising goal, I wanted to raise $2500 in honor of Charlie’s 10th Birthday. That year, we raised $5045. I ran hard and finished with my dear friend singing “Jesus Loves Me” in my ear, just like my Aunt sang as Charlie was baptised an hour before his death.

2014 brought the Glass Slipper Challenge. 19.3 miles of insanity. My goal was $2000, because I couldn’t imagine people would donate like they did the year before. We hit $2567 last year. I was floored. And honored.

This year, being the competitive person I am (with myself), I decided that if we could raise $7612, why couldn’t we make it an even $10,000? I mean, can’t hurt to try, right?

So with all of you behind me, I laced up and trained. And I asked you to donate. And once again, you came through. So many of you. Some with $5, some with more… all with love in your hearts.

This morning, I was in Waffle House with the family and got an email ding. It was a donation for $70. I knew my math. I knew that was the amount I needed. Shaking, I went to my page and saw this:

10k

In my head, the reporter asked me, “You’ve reached your goal… what are you going to do now?”

To which I answered emphatically, “I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”

We did it, y’all! We did it! 

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! 

On Super Bowl Ads and Children Dying

By 7 this morning (morning after Super Bowl 49), I have already had 6 inquiries into what I thought about the Nationwide “Make Safe Happen” ad. The ad features a beautiful young boy who can’t grow up to get cooties, learn to ride a bike, or learn to fly because he died. He couldn’t grow up because he died from an accident.

As much of a football fan as I am, oddly I didn’t see the game. My cable went out 5 minutes into the game and I was stuck watching BrandBowl on Twitter. I saw the initial shock, the subsequent disgust and anger, and then watched it turn into a “my snarky dead child joke is better than yours” contest. I have a pretty dark sense of humor, so I laughed. Yes, I have a dead child and I laughed. Because sometimes that’s how you have to deal.

If you haven’t seen the commercial, will you take a minute to watch it?

I think the ad is brilliant.

As a Super Bowl ad? Not so much. But only because the excitement of the Super Bowl is palpable and an ad like this is really a downer.

But as an ad and part of a larger campaign? It works. And it made you talk. It made you think about the fact that children die.

As a mother who has watched her child’s way-too-small casket being lowered into the ground–not from an accident but from an infection– I want you to think about that. I want you to realize that accidents happen and children die. It happens. It always has. And no matter how many campaigns, vaccines, cures, helmets, seatbelts and laws we have, it ALWAYS WILL. Unfortunately, we will never stop death from happening — even the death of children.

The Nationwide commercial made you sad and uncomfortable and probably even made you cry. You didn’t like it because you were enjoying your beer, having a fun time with friends, cheering for the best team to win. It brought you down. And yeah, that sucks.

That’s how grief is, though. It’s what parents who have seen their beautiful child’s first and last breaths feels every day. Each moment filled with ecstasy is a segue to a moment of sheer disbelief that this is their life now. A life where their child won’t learn to ride a bike or get cooties. It doesn’t matter the cause, when a child dies, it’s a buzzkill. Just like the ad.

When I watched the video this morning, I also watched the 2 minute Nationwide Make Safe Happen Program Video. It’s a longer version of the ad and really gets to the heart of what Nationwide is trying to do. They want to help you keep your family safe. Take 2 minutes and watch the video.

I guess the answer to the questions I’ve gotten his morning is simple: As a Super Bowl ad, Make Safe Happen was a buzzkill. But it made you talk. And that? May just allow more children to get cooties and learn to fly. Isn’t that worth it? .

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